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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Interview with Stephen King; Spain Under Strain; Spain's Lost Generation; Occupying Wall Street; Budget Deadline; Virgin's Money Move; Heist of Fashion; Greek Protests

Aired November 17, 2011 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Spain feels the squeeze as borrowing costs hit a record high there.

Occupy Wall Street's day of disruption -- protesters turn out in their thousands.

And height of fashion -- disaster for Marc Jacobs, as his new collection is stolen.

I'm Max Foster.

This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Contagion has well and truly landed in Spain. Once again, the bond markets have turned on a country rocked with economic doubt and political uncertainty. And as yields keep rising, another one of Europe's biggest economies seems set to join that 7 percent club that we've been talking about. Spain's borrowing costs couldn't be much closer to the symbolic mark right now. At an auction today, the ara -- average yield on its 10- year bond was barely beneath 7 percent, the highest it's been since Spain joined the euro, in fact.

There wasn't as much demand for Spanish debt as usual, either, as returns as high as 7 percent aren't enough to tempt some investors getting into that particular bond market.

Now, the main Spanish index was off slightly today. If you could -- if you look at the chart for the year as a whole, it's down more than 15 percent so far.

Banks have had it particularly tough. It's always the case, isn't it?

Santander, for example, is down almost 30 percent this year.

This all comes at a crucial time for Spain. The country has national elections on Sunday. The economy, particularly unemployment, is going to be the number one issue. And this man, Mariano Rajoy, is the odds on favorite to capitalize. As we know, there are almost five million san -- Spaniards without a job and the -- the debt to GDP ratio is more than 60 percent. And the government has admitted it's going to miss its growth targets for the year.

All the public anger over these problems means Mariano Rajov's public -- or Popular Party has a -- has a huge lead over the ruling Socialist Party right now.

Well, HSBC's chief economist, Stephen King, says Europe's grand plan has turned into a bit of a grand fiasco -- first Italy and now Spain are feeling the fallout from the situation that started over in Greece.

Earlier I asked Stephen why he says that Europe's firewall has turned into a "scorched earth," as he calls it.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

STEPHEN KING, CHIEF ECONOMIST, HSBC: Well, the original idea was to put a firewall around Greece, to basically say, well, if things go wrong in Greece, it's not going to have a huge impact on the rest of the Eurozone.

Unfortunately, what's happened, particularly around about the time of the G20 meetings is that Merkel and Sarkozy have basically said well, there's a chance that Greece will have to leave the euro and to leave the EU. And once that story came out, it became obvious to the financial markets that if Greece could leave, then perhaps anyone could leave and...

FOSTER: Italy could leave.

KING: Well, anyone could. I mean Israeli, Spain, Greece, maybe even Germany. In other words, the whole idea of the euro was that there's a political commitment, which was irreversible. Once you're in, the door was shut behind you, the door was locked, the key thrown away and that was it.

But we've now moved, over the course of the last two or three weeks, to a world where perhaps it's possible to leave. Of course, the problem with that is that as markets begin to think, is it possible that countries could leave, the consequences are, particularly in bond markets, that you have huge amounts of instability and the cost of borrowing for those which are seen to be the more likely to the individual who has gone through the roof.

FOSTER: So Merkel and Sarkozy have actually undermined the euro.

KING: Well, unintentionally. Of course, the idea was to try to persuade the Greeks to have a referendum about being in the euro rather than a referendum about somebody talking about austerity.

But by coming up with this bilateral view vis-a-vis Greece, they've potentially opened a can of worms that perhaps they hadn't really expected to open. And, of course, the implications were very clear in terms of countries elsewhere within the Eurozone.

But to get back to the underlying, which is the fact that we have a debate within the Eurozone between the interests of creditors, particularly Germany, and debtors in other parts of the Eurozone. And that debate has yet to be resolved. And until it is resolved, then uncertainties about tee's future will just persist.

FOSTER: And it's blowing up all the time. We had Italy, of course, most recently. But now we're talking about Spain heading into the election. Bond yields heading up.

So is Spain the same story again?

KING: Well, there were a series of different underlying causes for each individual country. In the case of Greece, it was because they weren't particularly truthful about their fiscal numbers over the last few years. In case of Ireland, it was because we discovered there were a series of bank failures that perhaps hadn't been expected first of all. In the case of Spain, there's some uncertainty about the health of the banks and whether, eventually, perhaps, the government would have to bail those banks out.

So there's a whole host of different reasons. But the collective reason is about the same in each case, which is that this is an uncertainty about the relationship between those who borrowed and those who lent. And resolving that difficult uncertainty is one that has created some new tricky issues for the euro more broadly.

FOSTER: President Obama was talking about this need for a firewall in Europe. I think you're pretty much arguing the same thing, aren't you?

KING: Yes.

FOSTER: We've been talking about the lender of last resort that the ECB could become. But you're also suggesting that the -- that the ESM could also fulfill the same type of role. So there's an alternative to the ECB.

KING: Well, the underlying issue really is how do you fund some kind of bailout. And at the moment, there isn't any kind of obvious bailout, whether it's the EFSF, the ESN or the ECB and all these sort of strange initials. The reality is that that there's a complete lack of transparency as to where the funding is going to come from.

FOSTER: But it has to come from somewhere to reassure the markets.

KING: Ultimately, yes. Now, of course, the Northern European countries are saying they've lost enthusiasm for buying Southern European debt. We understand that. The original plan was to go to the Chinese the Japanese and say, please, would you mind providing the funds. And the Chinese and the Japanese would say, well, basically, no, because why should we bail these countries out when you are choosing not to?

So if you look, there is almost an inevitability about eventually the ECB having to step in, in exactly the same way that the Federal Reserve, of course, expanded its balance sheet back in 2009, which provided stability to the US.

Now, the key uncertainty at the moment is what would be enough to persuade the ECB to do something which, until now, it's steadfastly refused to do. And there is one obvious way this could happen, which is that if the countries in the south continue to weaken, if we start to see a collapse in inter-European trade, if we have financial contagions spreading from the south to the north, eventually that may drag Germany itself into recession.

And if that happens, and, of course, it's a little bit easier then for the European Central Bank to say, you know what, we're not just buying Italian debt or Spanish debt, we're now having to buy debt for all European countries because otherwise we're going to end up with excessively low inflation and possibly deflation and a very, very nasty European recession.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Well, with elections just days away, this adds a whole new dimension to the debate over the Spanish economy.

Let's go to our Madrid bureau chief Al Goodman, in the Spanish capital for us -- Al, I guess if there is a change in government, it does actually give a bit of a break to the system. That would give them an opportunity to give the markets something to think about over the next few days, right?

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the theory, Max. And the reason that there's elections -- early elections, because this term was supposed to go until March of next year, but the Socialist prime minister, the incumbent prime minister, who's not running again because he's been so badly damaged by the economic crisis, had to call early elections.

And so this is supposed to be an orderly transition. The Conservative candidate is way ahead in the polls. And he says that there will be more austerity, but he's got to send a message to Europe, he says, that Spain is a stable and reliable country. He says he's got the formula to get out of this.

And let me just give you the quote of the day. The finance, the current finance minister, Elena Salgado, is being quoted today as saying Spain's debt level is perfectly sustainable -- Max.

FOSTER: In terms of what the -- the new, the Popular Party would do with the economy, have we got any indication?

GOODMAN: Well, they've been criticized harshly by the Socialist candidate, who's standing in now that the prime minister is not running, has said, look, these guys are very vague and what they're going to do is come in with a kind of a slash and burn cutbacks, cutbacks, cutbacks.

But the Conservative candidate said, no, that's all bunk, look, I'm going to protect pensions. I'm not going to touch pensions. But everything else is on the table.

What he hasn't really said is where he's going to cut.

But assuming that he gets elected, he should have a government in place by December, and he would start the new year, he'll have to get the budget for 2012. And that would send a series of messages. And who he picks to be economy minister, he says he knows who that would be, but he's not revealing it yet, obviously, he hasn't won.

All of these would be a series of messages to try to calm things down. Because, remember, the European Union has been praising Spain, which has got a very, very sick economy, but it has been praising Spain for the past month, saying, look, Spain, with a sick economy, has done the right austerity measures that we asked them to do and yet still, the contagion is washing over Spain as we see this day with that bond sale -- Max.

FOSTER: And that's exactly the point, isn't it, actually?

Our chief economist was telling us that this isn't necessarily a Spain problem. It's being swept into the contagion, which is a problem for all of those countries.

So it leaves you with the question, how much can a new Spanish government actually do to resolve the situation. It has to sort of let the situation pass. It's almost helpless.

GOODMAN: I wouldn't say that this man, who is a seasoned politician who's been in previous governments is helpless. And he knows his way around Europe. But he's got to make some cutbacks. And in terms of growth in Spain, it's very tepid at best, he says he's got a tax plan to cut taxes for businesses, to give them an incentive to hire people.

But, look, the Spanish exports are not selling in Germany or France because those economies are slowing down.

So it's going to be months of more pain in Spain, it seems. And even the candidate is admitting that -- Max.

FOSTER: And in terms of what happens from here, so you've got the election on Sunday.

When will we have a new government and what will it -- what sort of -- what's the process that follows from here?

What can the markets expect to happen?

GOODMAN: Well, there are a series of holidays coming up in Spain in early December. And so some are betting that before Christmas, but after the first week of Spain holidays. So maybe in that second week of December, that basically there would be a government in place.

Another issue is does this man, if he wins, does he get a majority in parliament, in which case he can move along much quicker?

Or is he -- does he actually not get that majority and he has to do deals with smaller parties to win investiture. That would slow things down.

The idea, though, is that there would be a government in place before Christmas and that they would have a budget to approve early next year and to try to get things.

But it will be weeks. And things happen at light speed, as we can see. So it's not going to be an easy period -- Max.

FOSTER: Al Goodman, thank you very much, indeed.

Spain's young men and women face perhaps the toughest struggle of all. Youth unemployment there is at almost 45 percent -- a staggering number.

Tonight, we're going to bring you the stories of three people from the country's lost generation, as they've been called.

Joan Fernandez, on the -- on the right there, does have a job, but it's taken him five years to find one.

Next to him is Julio Casas. He's a 28 -year-old historian. The only job he's been able to get is as a part-time child care.

And Nicolas Lupo is a 24 -year-old journalism graduate and he can't find a job at all.

They'll be turning out for Sunday's election, but they don't expect it change anything. In fact, we need to get to the polls, they say they're going to spoil their ballots, would you believe?

These three young men are not alone in Spain.

Dan Rivers sat down with them to understand why Spain's lost generation has given up hope.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's your experience been with trying to get a job in Spain?

NICOLAS LUPO: It's really -- now it's quite impossible to find the work. You can look for 20, 30 different places and they will say oh, just the same -- if you have some place, we will call you, we are interested, but we don't have any job for you now.

JOAN FERNANDEZ: It's difficult to find a permanent job in -- because normally, the -- the bosses of the companies, normally fears offers of work temporarily, like three months, six months, one year.

RIVERS: Who do you blame for Spain's economic crisis?

LUPO: I think we are a little bit responsible because we lived the -- we say, no, we are living very good, we spend a lot of money, I buy my car, I buy my building. But it was like a bubble that has exploded more, more harder than other countries.

JULIO CASAS: Thirty years ago, we have a lot of factories. We had a lot of factories, a lot of producing sector. And -- and now it changed.

FERNANDEZ: And now the -- the -- the majority of the families in Spain are -- they need a lot of -- of money that they don't have in the past, buying the car, the houses.

CASAS: We are really trying, right, to find another kind of economy and another kind of answer to the life questions.

RIVERS: But in Spain, you know, youth unemployment is at 46 percent. GDP is almost 0.

You really think none of that matters?

CASAS: We -- I think the unemployment is not the huge problem in -- in Spain, because we have a big underground economic -- economical area.

LUPO: You really don't think that the unemployment is a problem?

CASAS: No. No. I think not.

LUPO: I think yes. I think it's a bigger problem now if -- if -- if the people will not have a work, the economy will not work.

And it's like a -- a circle, no?

If the economy doesn't work, you don't have a -- you don't -- you will not get a job.

RIVERS: Would you ever consider going abroad to get work?

LUPO: Yes, personally, I'm -- I'm -- I'm leaving in six months. I'm -- I'm looking -- I'm trying to -- to get experience outside of Spain, because it's very difficult to get a job.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Well, two months on and no signs of giving up -- we'll head to New York, where the Occupy Wall Street movement is pushing on with a mass day of action.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Two months on from the first protest, Occupy Wall Street's activists are halfway through what they're calling a mass day of action. The movement that says it will no longer tolerate the greed of the world's richest 1 percent is organizing sit-ins and marches across New York and major cities around the world.

New York police say up to 75 people have been arrested so far today.

CNN's Maggie Lake joins us now from Zuccotti Park in the city's Financial District.

And they were promising a big day of action, too, yesterday, Maggie, weren't they?

Did -- did it live up to what you expected?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So far, it seems that it is, Max.

Their point was to try to disrupt and get notice and they've certainly done that.

We are at Zuccotti Park. I don't know if you can hear the chanting behind me. It is, once again, the sort of center of action. Early this morning, the protesters marched on Wall Street to the doorstep of some of the banks and the exchange itself. They got pretty close. A bit of a stand-off with police, some of them sort of sitting in peacefully.

When they returned here, though, to Zuccotti Park, it's definitely been a different tone throughout the last couple of hours here. There have been sporadic flare-ups, stand-offs, scuffles with police. We have seen people hauled off and arrested. Each time, it sort of seems very peaceful and then all of a sudden there's an incident and everyone rushes in.

So it's been a little chaotic at times. It's quiet once again now, but that's sort of been the sort of tone. It's been quite tense today.

You know, a lot of the people who are down here and -- and many more are expected to join them later today at some of the events, including a gathering at Foley Square and the march over the Brooklyn Bridge.

They are, of course, protesting the 99 percent versus the 1 percent, the economic state that many Americans find themselves in.

But, you know, we caught up with one of the 1 percent, one of the minority. He is someone who is with a group of millionaires arguing that they should be paying higher taxes. They went to Washington yesterday.

He came down here today and said that he's sympathetic with some of the concerns that these people are voicing.

His name is Eric Schoenberg.

Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC SCHOENBERG, MILLIONAIRE SUPPORTING HIGHER TAXES: That's why we went to Washington, to get our voices heard, that even Americans of substantial wealth recognize that our system is not working for large numbers of average Americans. And that is a huge problem.

Believe me, I'm not doing this -- I mean I -- I do think this is a message that socially that -- that's broadly good for the -- the -- the greater society. But I'm doing this in my own self-interests, because I don't want this kind of chaos in my streets. I'd much rather have a society where people feel that they don't need to come out and yell incoherently in the streets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAKE: And, Max, it has, at times, felt a bit chaotic today. Some of the people who have come down to check it out, to lend their support, are actually a little dismayed by -- by some of the sort of violence and the clashes with police.

Others in the group of protesters say that it shows their force -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Maggie, thank you very much, indeed.

We'll follow that day of action as it continues.

There are a few more hours left in it.

But elsewhere in the U.S., in Washington, the clock is ticking for the U.S. Congressional super committee. It has less than a week now to agree on how to cut more than a trillion dollars from the U.S. budget.

CNN's Felicia Taylor explains getting an agreement from both sides in time for Thanksgiving dinner will be no easy feat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good.

How are you?

Good.

TAYLOR: Thank you for having us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm glad you could come.

TAYLOR: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you?

TAYLOR: I'm great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's nice to see you.

TAYLOR: Please take a seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

TAYLOR: So, as families gather across the United States for their celebration of Thanksgiving, we wanted to bring some people together and sort of represent the Congressional super committee in Washington, sort of as a political family, as they, too, are gathering around a table for Thanksgiving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you think it goes...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. No, listen. No, no. Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

TAYLOR: And as often happens at family gatherings, things can get a little heated -- especially when it comes to politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats don't want to stop the spending. The entitlement programs keep getting bigger and bigger. Listen, when they start...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not -- that's just not honest and not fair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the Democrats have put entitlements on the line. They are willing to make changes. They just think it should be balanced by revenue on the other side.

TAYLOR: The super committee is made up of 12 members of Congress. We have six Republicans and six Democrats to debate the issue. They've been at the table since September, trying to come up with a recipe for the federal budget deficit, a bipartisan deal. That's what's been so difficult.

They have until November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving. They've got a big job in front of them.

So to represent the actual budget, we have a traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

Whoa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow! Look at this one.

(CROSSTALK)

TAYLOR: The tab is a slice of $1.2 trillion in the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years.

Now, that's a lot of meat and probably some fat. And that's why the super committee members are having a hard time coming up with the right solution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The super committee is political theater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's easier for 12 people to negotiate than 400 and something...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- congressmen and 100 senators.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's six very different people on each side. They all represent a different part of the country. They all represent a different point of view.

TAYLOR: Some Democrats, not all, want to do away with trillions of dollars in the deficit, combining spending cuts with tax increases and an end to some of the tax breaks for the wealthiest, sort of taking away their gravy.

Months Republicans are against tax increases, but they do want to take the stuffing out of dozens of federal programs.

So far, nobody has found the wishbone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I live in this country. I understand what the issues are. I understand if we have to raise taxes, I get that, but -- but I have to understand and believe that on the other side, I'm going to get just as much give back on the other side, which is what my sense is we're not getting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that's -- no, the Democrats wanted to give it just as much on the other side.

TAYLOR: Even the financial markets are sort of waiting in the backed like a nervous waiter.

What would happen if we didn't get any deal approved or a watered down version?

KENNETH POLCARI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ICAP EQUITIES: I think either way, it's going to be a disappointment to the market. I think the market is clearly expecting that our elected officials stand up and do something. If they end up with just the mandated cuts, I think the market sells off. And if we end up with anything less than that or no sense of compromise between anyone, I think the markets take an immediate hit.

TAYLOR: If the super committee does a good job of carving out the budget, then they will then present the entire thing to Congress.

Does anybody want the leg?

I like this...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, send it this way.

TAYLOR: If the super committee ends up fighting over the carving knife or Congress actually rejects the menu, automatic cuts are going to take effect, with half coming from social programs and the rest from defense.

So these 12 guests, Republicans and Democrats, are raising a toast to the super committee in Washington, hoping and wishing them luck that they can come to a deal by November 23rd.

Felicia Taylor, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Brilliant. It's our Felicia enjoying herself out there and explaining a very complex thing.

Well, next, Virgin money is rocking into the High Street. We'll take a look at how it's billion dollar deal puts credit crunch victim, Northern Rock, back in private hands.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Richard Branson's Virgin Money or Virgin empire is buying one of the symbols of the credit crunch, which is the U.K. bank, Northern Rock. The deal, worth at least $1.2 billion, will make Virgin Money a High Street brand and, after more than three years of state ownership, put the retail side of Northern Rock back into private hands.

CNN's Jim Boulden reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before the credit crunch became story number one, before Greece needed a bailout, a year before Lehman Brothers collapsed, these scenes in September 2007 heralded what was to come. For the first time in more than a century, Britons lined up in front of a bank to get their money out.

The little known Northern Rock bet on the U.S. subprime mortgage market. When that started to dry up in the summer of 2007, Northern Rock started to run out of money. And when it asked for an emergency loan from the Bank of England, customers panicked.

(voice-over): Northern Rock collapsed and was eventually nationalized, then split in two. The part with the viable mortgages, 75 branches and deposits, on Thursday was sold for at least $1.2 billion.

JAYNE-ANNE GADHIA, CEO, VIRGIN MONEY: The businesses are so complementary. So at Virgin Money, we have credit cards, insurance products and investment products. Northern Rock, of course, has mortgage and savings products in the current account.

So it gives us the opportunity to very quickly have a full range of banking products. Equally, Virgin Money is a very successful online business.

BOULDEN: The sale by the government to Virgin Money comes as no surprise. Virgin and its partners in the deal, including turnaround specialist, Wilbur Ross, have been trying for years to buy Northern Rock, backed all along by Richard Branson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM OCTOBER 2007)

RICHARD BRANSON, CEO, VIRGIN ATLANTIC: It was a great British bank. It's run into problems. We have a great brand with the Virgin brand. We think we can not only save it, but we can actually become a formidable force and -- and competitor to the four biggest brands in Britain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOULDEN: Virgin Money takes on a branch network with a million customers at a time when the big banks aren't exactly popular.

SIMON DENHAM, CEO, CAPITAL SPREADS: Now, they -- the High Street, the -- the -- the banks that you generally walk into, will now have a competitor who has very little baggage.

BOULDEN: The government, and, therefore, the taxpayer, could lose up to a billion dollars on the deal. But the finance minister says it's time Britain starts to get out of owning the country's banking sector, much of which was nationalized at the height of the crisis.

GEORGE OSBORNE, U.K. FINANCE MINISTER: I think this is going to be a good deal for British consumers. We're going to have a powerful new presence on the High Street offering better deals to families and real choice and competition.

BOULDEN: The government is still majority owner of the Royal Bank of Scotland and has a big chunk of Lloyds Banking Group. Now, at least, the tainted Northern Rock name is soon to fade away and be replaced with the iconic Virgin bad news.

Jim Boulden, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Interesting to see.

Now, we've all lost things on the train before, but Marc Jacobs has just lost his entire summer collection.

So how exactly did thieves manage to steal the entire lot?

We'll ask that question from Monita Rajpal, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Welcome back.

I'm Max Foster.

You're watching QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

This is CNN, the world's news leader.

And these are the news headlines this hour.

Italy's new prime minister faces a critical vote of confidence and there are already signs that many people oppose the new austerity measures he's proposing. Police clashed with protesters in cities including Rome. Prime Minister Mario Monti says he wants to balance austerity with pro- growth measures but that sacrifices are inevitable. He added: "The future of Europe depends on Italy."

And within the past hour, new scuffles have broken out at New York's Zuccotti Park. It has been home -- the home base of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Clashes also erupted on a street in Lower Manhattan. Protest organizers called today a, quote, "mass day of action," with events planned in cities nationwide.

The director of the UN's nuclear watchdog agency says Iran needs to explain its nuclear program. The IAEA is holding a two day meeting in Vienna, where the major focus is an agency report containing evidence that Iran has pursued nuclear weapons. Iran denies it.

A man arrested for allegedly shooting at the White House will be charged with attempting to assassinate the president or a member of his staff. That decision was just made by a federal prosecutor. The man was arrested in the state of Pennsylvania just days after at least two bullets struck the White House.

Well, it's being called a great train robbery that's rocking the fashion world. The designer, Marc Jacobs, has had to cancel a press day after thieves made off with possibly the entire spring/summer collection.

Monita is here to explain why this is important.

MONITA RAJPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, this was supposed to be the day where the fashion editors of some of the major magazines, fashion mornings of the world, especially those based here in the U.K., would get to see this collection up close. There are more than 40 pieces. And these are the pieces that they saw in September as the models were wearing them on the catwalk during the unveiling of the spring/summer 2012 collection.

So this will be the chance for them to actually look at it up close, touch it, feel it and then figure out how they would put this in their editorial spreads in the magazines.

Great publicity for the Marc Jacobs line and it would be a way for them to incorporate it into the -- the -- the season's trends.

They were told in an e-mail by a spokesperson from -- from Marc Jacobs saying: "The Marc Jacobs P.R. team is sorry to inform you that our press day in the Marc Jacobs store, which is the flagship store here in London, is canceled due to the theft of the spring-summer 2012 collection during its transfer from Paris."

And this was a transfer on the train from Paris to London.

How that happened is a mystery, because we're talking about, you know, some 40 odd pieces, samples from the show and gone.

So we don't know what's happened to them right now.

FOSTER: And just explain what a sampler is...

RAJPAL: Yes.

FOSTER: -- because you can't just put these clothes on and walk around London in them.

RAJPAL: Well, I mean, unless you're a size two or a size four, then, yes, you probably could. But the thing is, these are the -- these are the samples, though. These are the actual clothes that you would have seen on the runway during the Fashion Week, during the actual fashion show. And they would -- they -- they -- they tend -- I guess, technically, they go from a sketch that the designer will have made to actually what is made and what the -- the model would wear.

So, you know, if -- if you're in Europe, I mean, one of the fashion editors was telling me that if this was, indeed, stolen, the thieves were either really stupid or really clever, because in Europe, you wouldn't be able to wear it, because anyone with a trained eye would be able to say, yes, that is a Marc Jacobs original from this past season.

But anywhere else, you never know. It could -- it could show up. It could be a collector's item.

FOSTER: So it could possibly be sabotage...

RAJPAL: Yes.

FOSTER: -- or someone stealing the ideas and selling them elsewhere in the world?

RAJPAL: But, you know, the thing is -- now, see that's really interesting. And that's one of the things that's a major concern. It could be counterfeit and that is a major concern for, obviously, all designers.

But once these designs are actually -- they appear on a catwalk, they're out there already. They're out there for everyone to see. And, you know, major -- maybe the clothes -- major clothing stores like Talk Shop or H&M, they -- you know, they come up with similar ideas as soon as the models step onto the runway. They're already out there coming up with their own creations and designs with similar ideas that these designers will have.

So counterfeiting is very difficult. But the fact that these are samples, they could easily go to some factory in another part of the world and they could take exactly that design and recreate it. So that's a real concern.

FOSTER: So it's a big deal for the fashion industry?

RAJPAL: Yes.

FOSTER: Monita, thank you very much, indeed.

Now, from New York to Rome and Athens, protesters are making their feelings plain. We'll have an update on that for you after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Thousands of protesters marched through Central Athens today, adding an anti-austerity message to an annual demonstration. The march commemorates a violent student uprising which helped topple Greece's military junta in 1973.

Today, it was violence again, as anger over spending cuts erupted onto the streets. Tear gas was released as youths hurled stones and firebombs - - firebombs at police.

Now, Elinda Labropoulou spoke to some of those demonstrators for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today is a day of commemoration in Greece. It marks a student uprising in 1973 that led to the fall of the military dictatorship. Thousands of people have been paying their respects right here at the focus of the uprising, the Athens Polytechnic. And many of them are taking part in an annual march to the American embassy.

But this year's protest is different because a lot of people are here to demonstrate against a different kind of oppression -- austerity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The demands of the students back then are very up to date. I feel anger. I see that like my future is taken away from me and I feel that I have the obligation to fight for me and for my whole generation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's very difficult for me and my family to survive today. And -- and I see that there is no future today in my life. I can't find a job. I -- I see that as a very difficult thing to happen in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm here today for the same reasons that students were in Polytechnical School before 37, 38 years ago. That means for bread, liberty and the right to express theirselves -- themselves. That's what -- that's exactly the same.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Right. Well, from Athens, we're actually going to take you to Wall Street now and check on the big board and see what it's doing, because it's -- it's down 1.72 percent, as you can see. The two main concerns, the Eurozone, what's happening in Italy and now Spain, and also looking ahead to the super committee and what really can be achieved there.

Let's get you an update on the weather situation, as well, for you.

Pedram is at the World Weather Center for us -- hi, Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Max.

Yes, the weather situation across Europe, really, big talk across Western Europe the past several hours. Storms beginning to roll in in the last couple of hours around Dublin, Belfast, work your way toward Glasgow. You're getting some rumbles of thunder associated with some of these storms. And you can take a look.

Once you get to the reds and the oranges there, you're really getting on the top of the food chain as far as heavy rainfall is concerned. And that's one part of Europe there, across the northern edges of Scotland, that have been very, very dry in recent days.

And the U.K. Met Office just releasing some information. Interesting, because you might think it's perhaps a little cold outside across areas of the UK. And the average temperature so far, in the first couple of weeks, has been about nine-and-a-half degrees.

Now, that's about three-and-a-half degrees above average, so it's actually been unseasonably warm. And the rainfall has been hard-pressed to come by, as well. We've only picked up about 25 millimeters of rainfall across the U.K. when you really average out everything.

And Scotland has seen about 12 percent of average when it comes to rainfall totals. So this rain, all associated with the storm, is all good news.

Besides that, Europe generally dry here and very cold temperatures, especially to the south, where you expected, with the clear skies, some fog forming around Frankfurt. You're going to see some delays, especially coming out of there on Friday morning with some of that fog and some breezy conditions and some delays possibly out toward Dublin.

But take a look at this. This is around Western Switzerland. We have a snow-free landscape set up. And it's this photograph taken at one of those popular ski resorts at 1,700 meters high. So, again, you're talking high elevation, an area that's used to seeing snow. Some of the ski resorts here have had to actually hold off opening for several weeks to about a month after where they usually open.

And the latest satellite imagery, actually, this takes you back to 2010 in November, about a year ago. A lot of snow across the Alps. We had some clouds in place there, and, of course, some fog there in the valleys.

I want to show you what it looked like in the last couple of days. That same perspective, notice the lack of slow -- of snow pushing into some of this area, with all the clear skies that we've seen across some of the areas in Southern Europe. That has set up a very, very bad scenario for skiers out there. And this is actually the ski resort, the photograph that we just showed you. And you can see how dry it is right now in 2011 compared to what was in place there in 2010.

And this, again, is the 2010 perspective, Max, so a lot more snow a year ago. Right now, it looks like we're going to stay dry to the south, but out around Northwestern Europe really is where the brunt of the weather patterns are right now -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Pedram.

Thank you very much, indeed, for that.

That is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

I'm Max Foster in London.

Thank you so much for watching.

"MARKETPLACE EUROPE" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIET MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to MARKETPLACE EUROPE.

I'm Juliet Mann at the Bank of England Museum in London, because this week, it's all about money, money, money. And more importantly, if you're a business, where you can get it.

(voice-over): In this week's FaceTime interview, I speak to Paul Blucke, CEO of the world's biggest foods group, Nestle. He explains how by extending micro credit to its smaller suppliers, Nestle can help them when times are tough.

(on camera): And if you've never heard of crowd funding, you will now.

The galleries here at the Bank of England Museum are crammed with history, from coins to bank notes, from weights and measures to gold. Now, this gold bar is pretty heavy and quite difficult to lift. But not as hard as it is for some companies to get credit.

A survey released by the EU last month shows that the number of unsuccessful loan applications from SMEs to banks rose fivefold over three years, in some cases.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANN (voice-over): Latest Eurostar figures show that by the end of 2010, Bulgaria was the hardest country for SMEs to get bills from, with 35.5 percent of applications being turned down.

In the U.K., that figure was 20.8 percent.

German banks refused 8.2 percent of SME loan applications.

And in France, 7 percent of SMEs were turned down.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MANN: And credit is something that came up in this week's FaceTime interview, isn't it?

I traveled to Paris to speak to the CEO of food giant, Nestle, Paul Blucke, and asked him is size really matters in an economic crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: Now, what is it we're doing here?

(on camera): You've had a good set of results, slightly exceeding your growth expectations in the first nine months of the year. So you probably are feeling quite smug, quite self-satisfied that you're doing all right despite the economic crisis.

PAUL BLUCKE, CEO, NESTLE S.A.: No, never. That would be a dangerous reaction. I must say, yes, we are motivated by it in the sense that in spite of the economical environment, the economical environment, we have been able to maintain our growth momentum and -- and -- and at the same time, investing, also, for the future.

That was linked with, I think, innovation. It's -- it's renovating all our product categories. It is in a game-changing innovation that catches new platforms of growth in spite of the negative, I would say, environment, specifically in the Western world.

MANN: Now, the word on the Square Mile in London is that the banks aren't lending.

But I bet that's not a problem that a big clue chip like you is having.

BLUCKE: Well, we -- we have (INAUDIBLE) generation.

We -- we have our rating. So, in other words, we -- we don't see for Nestle, for the time being, any problem there. That's a position -- a luxury position. I -- I know to -- to value. MANN: But I -- I hear you've had a billion dollars worth of -- of loans on very easy terms.

So is it a question that size is better, size really does matter?

BLUCKE: We'll, you know, there is no terms easy -- easier damage, is what -- is the right way to say it. And, also, or the mention of -- of -- I would say, going about these things is not about linked with size, it's also trust. We are about trust. And that's what's expressed by the financial world to ourselves. And will have to earn that every day. And that's what we are trying to do. MANN: But big companies like yours, you have good relationships, you can get good deals with the banks. You -- you have contingency funds, small and medium businesses aren't necessarily in the same position. They see a company like yours going -- getting four -- four billion pound bonds.

What can you tell them?

What advice can you give them if -- if it's not just to grow and consolidate?

BLUCKE: I understand your question. We cannot -- I cannot speak for the banks. So and -- and -- we have a good relationship with the banks. I would say we have earned a good relationship with the banks because of trust, what I just mentioned before.

What we can do, though, is working with our suppliers -- and we work with our suppliers. And, actually, we, in the downturn, we extended some terms for the supplies in spite of it not having an effect on working capital, because we were working and again, our relationship with suppliers are long-term. So we are expanding our micro credits. We're doing that with farmers, for example, who would not get to the bank or get money from the bank. We are expanding that, I mentioned, quite interestingly, and we have -- we have farmers along $40, $45 million a year of micro loans.

So these are the dimensions where we can have an effect positively and that's why we call, also, to be a positive dimension in -- in society at large.

And it makes sense to us, because we have -- we valorize stable relationships with big suppliers with customers, with the consumer. And that is, in a downturn, where credit is harsh and hard. We actually extend there to maintain these relationships and these possibilities to have these suppliers longer-term because, it's, again, built upon trust.

MANN: So part of it is size, part of it is trust.

Well, what advice would you give to -- to other companies out there who are struggling in these tough economic times, who -- who -- who want to do it the less slow way?

BLUCKE: I am not there to give advices. I think everybody knows what he has to do. I just can say what drives us and -- and it is this dimension of keep things in perspective of -- in the context of time. Short-termism is -- is -- is -- is deadly. And I think a little bit, with all that's happening, is it's short-termism in the short-term. You have to, but keep the dimension of time, the continuity of your activities.

We speak about the continuity permanently in our company. You have to have this perspective long-term. Yet, at the same time, you have to have the dollar as the nervousness of execution short-term.

But we should never compromise the long-term for a short-term gain. And that's something in -- in crisis, you're so strongly invited to go for the short-term and have a quick fix.

And I think that if that is the cost of long-term, you do try to do a favor for your company. And that's our job, to just maintain that dimension.

And that is linked, again, with innovation. This is linked with investments in long-term. This is in our rains with country for long-term. And I think we have to reflect on that in everything we do.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MANN: (INAUDIBLE) -- from micro credit to micro investing -- join me after the break to see how crowd funding could help kick start your stock up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back to MARKETPLACE EUROPE.

Kick starter, chip in, rocket hubs -- just some of the names of crowd- funding sites around the world. They're Web sites that hook up members of the public keen to invest in something with entrepreneurs who need funding.

So they should have to deal with people like this.

One of those Web sites is Crowdcube.

Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANN (voice-over): Word in watering holes in and around the Square Mile is that the economy will grow faster if new businesses flourish. But those who are sitting with ideas have found start-up funding on the rocks.

That's why this barman turned entrepreneur used crowd funding. He went online to find investors with smallish stakes. That cut it out (ph) gave him the cash he needs.

ALEX KAMMERLING, GINSENT SPIRIT ENTREPRENEUR: Yes, I was a little bit nervous about putting my whole plans up on the Web site for everyone to see. But, then, actually, what's happened is I've got now 50 investors on board and those -- they're going to be my little ambassadors, in a way, now that they've got an interest in my -- in my business and they can just go out and spread the word.

MANN: He got his funding via Crowdcube. Here's how it works. They match entrepreneurs with members of the public keen to invest. That crowd does the due diligence, assessing business plans online. What you get is lots of people staking small amounts, from a minimum of $14, rather than a couple of business angels putting in a whole lot more.

DARREN WESTLAKE, FOUNDER, CROWDCUBE: Well, I think it's going to be massive. I think that in -- in three, four, five years time, this will be a very common way for businesses to raise finance. Crowd funding has been around for a little while now and you can invest in artists and musicians and you get can things back, like CDs and -- and DVDs. But this gives you the (INAUDIBLE) -- the opportunity to invest in those businesses in a proper way and -- and hold shares in those businesses.

MANN: While the High Street banks are courting consumers with golden handshakes and prize draws that cry, bank with us, when it comes to lending, it can be a more hostile environment for small and medium sized firms.

LUKE LANG, FOUNDER, CROWDCUBE: For too long now, entrepreneurs have had to go cap in hand to rich, wealthy individuals to -- to gain money. And -- and we're -- we're very keen to democratize investment and enable everyone to -- to take part.

MANN: Crowdcube has only been around six months. But it's helped expanding businesses and new start-ups find almost $450,000 in equity funding. With around 500 businesses courting them and some 5,000 potential investors signed up, the world's first equity based, crowd funding platform probably won't be the last.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MANN: Crowd funding for equity is pretty new but it's catching on, here in the U.K., in the Netherlands and soon in Portugal. So we could all be one of the crowd, perhaps helping in our own small way to regenerate Europe's economies.

And who knows, you could be walking right past a tycoon of the future.

So, is the credit crunch affecting your business?

Let us know at the MARKETPLACE EUROPE Facebook page.

That's it for this week's edition of MARKETPLACE EUROPE, here at the Bank of England Museum in London.

I'm Juliet Mann.

Joins us next week.

Good-bye.

END